After years of complaints over the poor condition of Plumstead High Street – plus locals creating their own political party – Greenwich Council appeared to finally wake up a few years back and embark on improvement plans.
That saw a £5.2 million project announced to make the High Street a better experience to those on foot, helping businesses and creating a market in the listed Plumstead power station.
The project was to be jointly funded by the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund and Greenwich Council.
However, it hasn’t gone too well so far with more than half the total fund already spent, with people now are asking about the quality of what has been built.
An area in front of Poundland on Plumstead High Street has seen new paving which includes an almost continual puddle/lake due to poor drainage.
It also looks nothing like proposals previously seen:
Another project is greenery outside Tesco. Considering how Greenwich maintain other public space will it promptly become an eyesore?
When the authority became spooked by people possibly voting for some others, they also embarked on deep cleaning the High Street. That pretty quickly stopped with machines mothballed after just a couple of years.
High Street greenery
As part of the current £5.2m scheme, proposals to alter green space further towards the station are also running late. It was due to start in Autumn 2021.
If we rewind to last year concerns were being expressed by councillors to Greenwich Council officers about what is – and isn’t – being done.
Plumstead councillors asked probing questions in a regeneration meeting held in July 2022 about why much of the High Street’s public space now appears set to see no money spent.
Cllr Lakshan Saldin (Labour – Charlton Hornfair) asked about funding and sought greater detail on costings.
As of now, Greenwich Officers have still not responded to those questions after stating an update would be forthcoming. I’ve checked every meeting held since. It’s always the same; it’s “pending”.
Where’s money been spent?
During the meeting some questions just weren’t answered. Cllr Nas Asghar (Labour – Plumstead Common) also asked why a budget of £1.7 million for public realm had seen so much spent yet so few actual changes seen.
There were concerns that so much had also been spent on consultants with few tangible results on the ground.
The market plan on White Hart Road is now scrapped, with a Greenwich Peninsula-based business now set to move to the building in Plumstead. That is taking up £1.4 million of the total budget.
Now the council want to spend £2.4 million including Section 106 income.
That’s nice for the private company who seek to move in, and while it’s welcome to see a listed building revamped, spending such a large percentage there is perhaps not what many expected when they were told the run down High Street would be improved.
It’s also rather odd that no Section 106 money could be found for pedestrian improvements from major developments recently approved totalling more than 2,000 homes to help helping residents reach public transport, the railway station and shops.
When it comes to assisting people in getting around, reaching public transport, local shops, health services and amenities so often the authority pin most – if not all – responsibility on TfL alone while failing to invest their own Section 106 income.
Aside from failing to use developer income from two large developments around the station area, the Good Growth project also excludes that space.
Greenwich explicitly ignored TfL suggestions to invest Section 106 from two recent developments toward improved and safer connections.
This below in the Plumstead Area Framework has been ignored ever since it was drawn up when it comes to Good Growth funding and Section 106 income.
Prior ideas for Plumstead station using Housing Zone funds also seem forgotten.
It seems for a brief moment the authority were spooked into caring about Plumstead – and then promptly forgot.
And now we have a major project where much money already has already been spent on consultants while other areas havn’t begun years behind schedule, and what has been built appears nothing like what was promised. That compounds failing to utilise development income for improvements in other areas.
All eyes on the next regeneration meeting to see if Officers finally answer questions from councillors dating back to July last year.
Greenwich Council have been contacted for comment.
UPDATE: Greenwich Council are refusing to comment on the project.